The storytelling phenomenon Humans of New York and its #1 bestselling books have captivated a global audience of millions with personal narratives that illuminate the human condition. But one story stands apart from the rest…
She is a woman as fabulous, unbowed, and irresistible as the city she lives in.
In 2019, Humans of New York featured a photo of a woman in an outrageous fur coat and hat she made herself. She instantly captured the attention of millions. Her name is Stephanie Johnson, but she’s better known to HONY followers as “Tanqueray,” a born performer who was once one of the best-known burlesque dancers in New York City. Reeling from a brutal childhood, immersed in a world of go-go dancers and hustlers, dirty cops and gangsters, Stephanie was determined to become the fiercest thing the city had ever seen. And she succeeded.
Real, raw, and unapologetically honest, this is the full story of Tanqueray as told by Brandon Stanton—a book filled with never-before-told stories of Tanqueray’s struggles and triumphs through good times and bad, personal photos from her own collection, and glimpses of New York City from back in the day when the name “Tanqueray” was on everyone’s lips.
“When this photo was taken, ten thousand men in New York City knew that name. My signature meant something to them. They’d line up around the block whenever I was dancing in Times Square, just so I could sign the cover of their nudie magazine. I’d always write: ‘You were the best I ever had.’ … Something to make them smile for a second. Something to make them feel like they’d gotten to know me. Then they’d pay their twenty bucks, and go sit in the dark, and wait for the show to start. They’d roll that magazine up tight and think about their wives, or their work, or some of their other problems. And they’d wait for the lights to come up. Wait for Tanqueray to step out on stage and take it all away for eighteen minutes. Eighteen minutes. That’s how long you’ve got to hold ‘em. For eighteen minutes you’ve got to make them forget that they’re getting older. And that they aren’t where they want to be in life. And that it’s probably too late to do much about it. It’s only eighteen minutes. Not long at all. But there’s a way to make it seem like forever.”
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